Organize Your Photos? Why Bother?

The worst problem a photographer has, even at a casual level, is finding that ONE photo that you know you have, but can't remember where you put it.  Sound familiar?

You can, of course, just dump all your photos into one or even many photo folders, but unless you really think through how you want them organized, that can still be cumbersome.  I just did a quick check, and see that I am currently sitting with 31,020 photos organized that I can cull through in moments to find the image I want.  Check out this screenshot of my "Pictures" folder.  Yes, over 6 TB of photos in almost 600 folders! How quickly could you find that one special photo?

There are many schemes that people use to try to organize.  Years ago, I organized my music collection.  OH MY!  Was that ever a nightmare!  Let's just say I really like my music, and have either purchased digital or digitized all my old vinyl.  The project of organizing it took far more time that I would want to invest today.  So what about my photos?  Glad you asked!

Almost 20 years ago, in the infancy of digital photography, I knew what was going to happen if I didn't organize.  I decided "You know Bob, your memory is really pretty good.  If you set up a folder for the year, a sub-folder for the month, and then sub-folders within that for every shoot, you'll be fine."  Moral to this story, "What did you eat for dinner last Thursday?" draws a deer in the headlights response.

I used to spend up to 15 minutes just drilling down to browse the sub-sub-sub-folders just to find the shoot.  And that was if I remembered what year it was!  Trust me, things do blur together on the timeline as it gets longer.

Quit procrastinating and get organized.  There are many packages that can help you do this.  If you are a hobby photographer or testing the waters at a higher level, you should definitely consider using a package that will help automate your workflow.  Imagine bringing home your camera, plugging the memory card in, and transferring all those prized photos onto your computer with tags to help you find them, and even preview the images to make sure you want them all before committing precious hard drive space to storing those images.  Perhaps they were all a little dark or you wanted them in a different format?  This can all be changed on their way to the hard drive if you use a package like Lightroom to handle the heavy lifting.  It will also synchronize those photos to all of your mobile devices as well.  Sound to good to be true?  It's not.

Of course, Lightroom is not free, and for many would not be considered cheap.  Another equally powerful package that will provide you with the same type of power is AfterShot.  For those on the Apple platform, their version was Aperture, but has been replaced in 2016 by Photo.

Regardless of the method you use, or how many photos you "Think" that you take, you really should consider organizing them.  Don't think so - here's a simple test for you.  Check the time, then open you gallery on your phone and scroll down looking at the photos.  When you get to the bottom, check the time again.  See how much time you just wasted?  That is what you go through every time you're looking for that one photo, but don't have anything organized.  Now, imagine if that was your computer and you had over 6 TB of images.



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